1755–76, American soldier, hero of the American Revolution, b. Coventry, Conn. A young schoolteacher when the Revolution broke out, he was commissioned an officer in the Connecticut militia, served in the siege of Boston, then went to take part in operations in New York. He volunteered for the dangerous mission of getting information about the British forces on Long Island, where he went in the natural disguise of a schoolmaster. Inexperienced, he revealed his mission to a former British officer, was captured, and was hanged without trial. He is remembered especially for the statement he is said to have uttered on the gallows,
I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.
See biography by H. P. Johnston (1914); M. Pennypacker, General Washington's Spies on Long Island and in New York (1939).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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